The world's leading Internet engineers see many surprising trends occurring under the covers of this complex network environment. Among their findings are the evolution of silicon cockroaches — tiny, mobile, unattended wireless devices — and "dirty" Internet address space that can't be used by network operators. Here are a few eye-openers about what’s really going on in the Internet infrastructure that were discussed at a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) held in Anaheim last week.
Watch out for silicon cockroaches. Network operators should prepare for an infestation of silicon cockroaches, a term used to describe Internet-connected devices such as mobile sensors, bio-medical systems and RFID-powered asset trackers that operate without human administration. Aaron Falk, chair of the Internet Research Task Force, listed silicon cockroaches as a key factor in the Internet becoming a network of things, rather than a network of computers, in the future. Falk said 15 billion devices could be hooked up to the Internet by 2015, a figure that will be "orders of magnitude bigger" than the number of Internet-connected people. Silicon cockroaches pose several threats to network operators, including naming, security and management headaches that require additional research, Falk said.